Our new blog series, Google Goodness, will share the newest and most instructionally-relevant updates in our @jeffcoschools.us domain! Our goal is to regularly and proactively share ways that Google can shape teaching and learning in your classroom!
Tour Creator Now available
Student-created tours can be viewed in a panoramic view through the Tour Creator software. Currently, Jeffco students are not able to view the tours they have created in the Google Cardboard app (using 3D viewers), as it utilizes the YouTube app, which is not available for student use.
Visit Tour Creator
Article: Google's New Tour Creator Lets Students Make their Own VR Tours
Jamboard Access on the Web
The web software does have limited functionality compared to the features that are available using the physical Jamboard; however, users can still draw strokes using one of the 4 brushes, erase, select objects, and add/remove sticky notes on the web. Consider how this digital whiteboard could help students make thinking visible through creating sketchnotes, building thinking maps, and demonstrating their work.
Visit Jamboard on the Web
google's Applied digital Skills Curriculum
The overarching skills that are covered in these project-based video lessons have direct tie-ins to Jeffco Generations and transforming the task for students: digital collaboration, digital publishing, coding, communication, research, formatting, data representation & visualization, organization, and more. Check out this small sampling of featured lessons in the Applied Skills curriculum:
Visit the Applied Digital Skills website
Google Sites: Layout + Add Button
Additionally, Google has made it easier to add a button to your website. The clickable graphics can be linked to other content on your site or to an external URL (website address). Buttons will automatically match the color scheme and theme you have selected. Buttons help make your website easier to navigate, increase the visibility of important link, and make URLs look attractive!
Sites Help: How to add, edit and delete buttons
Quick Access Toolbar
The Global Read Aloud: One Book to Connect the World
Read their blog: theglobalreadaloud.com/blog/
It all started with Facebook. The Global Read Aloud Facebook group is where teachers find a classroom, other than one in their school, to connect and collaborate with each other. The premise is simple; groups pick a book to read aloud to students during a 6-week set period. During that period, classes try to make as many global connections as possible. The Facebook group helps to bring understanding about what The Global Read Aloud entails. Students don't actually access Facebook. They engage in collaborations using a variety of digital tools. The website (linked in the title) matches up classrooms where students from different schools engage in digital activities together.
The Facebook group does host educator book studies. There is one starting in January called, "The Passionate Readers Winter Book Study" The book study discusses teacher reading identity, student reading identity, classroom libraries, and of course, share must-read, must-add titles for you to consider adding to your classroom. The book club is free, all you need is your own copy of Passionate Readers and to join the Facebook group where the questions and discussion will happen.
Teachers across the groups will plan purposeful instructions with tech infusion. One goal is to match a digital tool with the task, in order for students to collaborate. The K-1 class at Peiffer is partnered with another school in Virginia, a kindergarten class. Algonkian Elementary, which is named after a Native American tribe that is widespread and in Virginia. We have done a Mystery Google Hangout to launch our connection (both classes got to ask questions to guess where the class was located), a Flipgrid coming up soon, a Padlet this week, and Seesaw Blog. We have shared the various activities we have done in Seesaw through our blog. We have answered prompts like "What fills your heart with happiness?" "How do you hold someone up?"-
Digital Tools used in the Peiffer Global Read Alouds
The teachers at Peiffer are using Seesaw Blog to communicate among students from the two schools. The picture above was taken from the blog. You can learn more about this free tool by watching this video.
I was lucky enough to witness a FLIPGRID that the K-1 class at Peiffer used to draw pictures from a main idea in the the book and the explain their thinking. Flipgrid is a website that allows teachers to create "grids" of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question and their students can post 90-second video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display. Click here to try FLIPGRID out!
Transforming the Task in the Global Read-Alouds
Peiffer teachers have been Transforming the Task using the SAMR Model, as well. They are creating, transforming, and evaluating student tasks that register M/R on the SAMR Model. For more information on the SAMR model and how strong learning happens when tasks register on the M/R, check out this Multi-media Text Set.
Move over HGTV, the fifth graders at Maple Grove Elementary are the stars of their very own school library redesign! Budgets, research, surveys, and floor plans are being drafted in
Ms. Ligrani’s and Ms. McCormick’s 5th grade classes as students create their proposals in hopes to be selected for the final design.
This unique PBL (project based learning) asks the students to apply math, economics, technology and reading skills in an authentic way in order to create a flexible learning space for their school.
The innovative idea began last spring, as the teachers recognized a need to replace the old and uncomfortable library furniture. The library is a shared learning space for everyone at Maple Grove, and Principal Chris Neville began to ponder how students could be involved in the improvements. He was inspired by Jeffco’s vision to transform the task for student learning.
When asked how they felt about being entrusted with the library redesign, 5th graders Lilly and Cameron smiled. “I think it was pretty cool! Since this is our last year at the school, we would like to use some of the furniture that we’ve wanted and to help everyone else get a new library.”
Handing over the reigns to the students has been an exciting adventure for Digital Teacher Librarian, Amy Stahura. “I’m totally game! The whole school is really excited about changing the look of the space. Hopefully it will look a lot different in here! I told the kids you can even my office space. The office would be a great green screen room.”
The Design Process
Students have been learning about design thinking (with resources from the Stanford d.school and ISTE Standard "Innovative Designer").
Research began in the field as students explored three sites in the community with flexible learning spaces. Their inquisitive minds visited "The LINK" at the Jeffco Education Center, fellow Jeffco school, Three Creeks K-8, and mindSpark Learning.
Ben and Jack were amazed by one site on their visit. "It was hard to believe that mindSpark was an old library and had no windows!" In their own design, the boys are interested in understanding how the wall colors might help learners in the library.
Empathizing with multiple stakeholders is important to the fifth graders, so the students have been collecting input from students, staff, and the community.
Surveys created in Google Forms allow students to collect and analyze data and share the results across groups. "We're working on a survey to the teachers right now. The teachers still use [the library], so they still have a voice in it," commented Austin and Ben H.
The student's creative juices are flowing as they ideate multiple scenarios for their new space. Tristan shares a draft design with considerations for height of the learners. iPads in the library will have the AutoCAD app available for groups as well.
The budget is on the mind of Bren and Stephanie. "Our budget is really really tight. We may have to reuse some of our stuff. We could reuse the bookshelf and make it a reading space to look outside." A generous donation from the PTA is funding the redesign and community partnerships are at the heart of the project. Parents with backgrounds in architecture, design, and furniture sales have become local experts from which to learn.
Instructional Coach, Amy Ellerman, a collaborator in the PBL remarked, "This project has provided such an authentic opportunity for collaboration between students, Maple Grove staff members, and our community. It is expanding our understanding of where and how learning happens."
We will have to wait until the end of the trimester when students share their proposals with school leadership and the PTA to find out the final design.
Ms. Stahura plans to reveal the renovation and invite all the partners who have supported the project. The celebration will not only be of the new space, but of the contribution of the fifth grade students to this authentic need in their school.
Want to learn more about designing learning spaces?
Read the review for The Space: A guide for educators
By Guest Blogger Felicia Frantz
Felicia Frantz is a computer science and business teacher at Alameda International Jr/Sr. High School. She is one of 300 teachers certified by Rasberry Pi in the United States and has been teaching at Alameda International for 4 years. Here she shares how she and her colleagues started a successful STEM program that has caught the attention of many, including 9News. Big thanks to Felicia for sharing her amazing expertise and experience!
About ten months ago my principal, Susie Van Scoyk, had submitted for a Title IV grant being offered offered through the district. Me and four of my coworkers were designated as the design team (think The Breakfast Club but much cooler). We were tasked with creating a STEM program, initially for 7th and 8th grade, but our hope was to be able to quickly expand it in to 9th - 12th grade as well.
We were nervous but excited over the opportunities and possibilities this grant afforded our students, and, although each of us had experience with one or multiple STEM focus subjects, we were not sure what exactly a “STEM” program would look like at Alameda International. There were so many options and we felt truly overwhelmed.
The grant consisted of $8,000 to spend on resources and $1,500 for professional development. In order to receive our grant we had to complete a training through the Choice Programming Department which would guide us in designing our program and spending our grant money. After a day of studying the concepts of project based learning and attempting to align it with the International Baccalaureate MYP Design Cycle, we had an idea that we wanted a lab or something that would give as many students and teachers access to the resources as possible, but we still could not visualize what exactly “STEM” was as a program or what this would look like at Alameda.
One of the members of our team, our DTL Dorina Miller, suggested we check out the ideaLab at the Denver Central Library. She had modeled several elements in her redesigned library makerspace after their area. We decided to check it out and were instantly enamoured. We decided we wanted to completely mirror the ideaLab in one of our classrooms. We also decided we would have the lab open before and after school so students could have access to come in and create and design at will. One other thing we decided to do, in order to help encourage the use of STEM in non-STEM classrooms was to offer the space to teachers to use for their classes.
Despite our decision on how to spend the grant, we felt like we were still missing some key elements to drive the idea of STEM at Alameda. As a team and as individuals we tried attending trainings and workshops over the summer, but could not find what we were looking for. We brought back great ideas that would definitely contribute to the enhancement of our program, such as industry contacts, ideas for authentic assessment panels, and the desire to build our own R.A.F.T., but we still felt like something was missing.
When we returned to school we were excited about the new journey we were about to embark upon. We were a newly minted department, in IB language we became the Design Department. Our course offerings had tripled and we had numerous sections being offered from 7-12 grade, including computer science, pre-engineering, imagination by design, to 9-12th grade robotics, computer graphics, and audio/visual production. Despite these wonderful offerings, we were still unsure how to bring STEM and the IB Design cycle into non-STEM classes. This concern plagued me more as I had been the author of our proposal and the IDEA Lab was under my care.
However, as people wandered by my room and as I shared out the resources we were collecting in my room a wonderful thing happened. The teachers started identifying ways in which they could use the resources with their students. An English teacher started talking about how she could have the students actually weave one of the textiles talked about in a book they read. The drama teacher started talking about his students using the sewing machines to create costumes or the resources to create props. The science teachers started talking about using augmented reality to allow the students to bring certain concepts to life, such as the muscular, vascular, and skeletal systems. And a geography teacher wanted to use virtual reality to take her students on field trips of geographical features.
On the outside these probably look just like forms of substitution and adaptation from the SAMR model, but in all honesty these are the examples of STEM we had been looking for all along. By merely sharing the potential resources with our peers, on their own they were able to identify a problem or challenge they had been facing in their classes, in many cases how to make something like literature or reading hands on, tangible, and engaging. From there, they were able to brainstorm ideas on how they could use the resources they now had access to to help solve that problem, as a result, they began to make a plan on how they could incorporate that experience into their lessons. Eventually they will get the chance to reflect on the experience and modify it where necessary.
In time, they will feel comfortable enough with the design cycle to begin letting the students identify their own problems or challenges and developing their own solutions. Because this is really what STEM is. It is not a set curriculum. It is not technology or special set of manipulatives. What STEM is, is teachers digging through recycling boxes looking for resources which students could upcycle into something else. It is providing students and teachers access to resources, skills, and a safe environment where they are free to identify potential problems based on their experiences, where they feel safe and empowered to brainstorm ideas and create solutions to those problems, to design them with guidance when they need it, to fail when things do not go just right (or celebrate the successes when things do go right), and are given the freedom and opportunity to reflect on the experience and what they learned, so that they feel empowered to go out and try again.
Postscript: As I was in the process of writing this post, our school had learned it had been selected by 9News at their first “CoolSchool” of the year because of the cool things we have going on here at Alameda, in particular the addition of our STEM program and that two of our middle school Society for Hispanic Engineer Jr. teams qualified to compete at the Technology Student Associations’ TEAMS competition in Atlanta this past June. 9News came an interviewed some of our STEM teachers and then also held a pep rally to help us celebrate. You can check out the story and the video segments at 9News Cool Schools: Alameda International
If you're interested in developing STEM programs or pathways at your school, contact Heather.Waldron.jeffco.k12.co.us, STEM Pathway Designer for Jeffco Public Schools.